Cedar Key was our target today – it is a small and very out of the way place; a town on the coast surrounded by shallow Gulf waters and rimmed by the islands of the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge. We sailed these waters with the Old Curmudgeon last year, and were eager to return.
We managed to get there on back roads from Manatee Springs, though Samantha (our Garmin GPS) kept insisting that we turn onto gated private ranch roads. Along the way, we took a side road to Shell Mount historic site. On that road, we happened on one of those treasures we hope to find while wandering back roads – this one was a small county campground with a nice launch into salt marsh channels. No reservations can be made, but there were many open campsites and it's the weekend.
The Shell Mound itself is quite a hill for Florida, 28 feet high and covering five acres. It‘s the largest remaining mound in the state. A shell mound is just that – a pile of oyster, whelk and clam shells, the remains of countless meals eaten over the period 2500 BC to 1000 AD.
Our first priority at Cedar Key was finding lunch (this is the Geezers Eat Florida Tour, after all). Tony’s Seafood Restaurant claimed to be the World Champions of clam chowder, so we had to put them to the test. The guys give their chowder two big thumbs up – it’s pretty fine. The oyster sandwiches and potato salad were great, as well.
Tom gives us the scoop on his new canoe
Sated for the moment, we unloaded the kayaks at a beach near the main boat launch. As usual, the wooden kayaks were very difficult to launch. No problem with the design of the boats, it’s just that people want to admire them and to know all about them. We had a nice conversation with Tom Liebert (who rents kayaks at the beach) ranging from kayaks to canoes to Greenland paddles. Tom posts paddling routes and information at http://cedarkeyguide.com/, go to "Maps".
Mike looks right at home in the waves, eh? The white knuckles are just hidden...
A Laughing Gull and Forester's Terns at Cedar Key
Dinner stir-fry at the camper
Quote of the day: “wooden kayaks are not for anyone in the witness protection program”.